By Shabbir Sarwar
LAHORE: All Pakistan Textile Mills Association (APTMA), with over 50 percent ($14.8 billion) contribution to the total national exports ($25 billion) and 78 percent share in the textile exports of the country, is the largest trade union of Pakistan as well as contributor to the national economy of the country.
Due to effective policies and leadership of APTMA, this year cotton production increased to 15 million bales despite two million bales lost due to floodwaters, as compared to the last year’s 11.7 million bales, thus making Pakistan self-sufficient in cotton sector for the first time in 10 years.
To rid the country of energy crisis, the association is actively engaged with various stakeholders, including the Sui Northern Gas Pipeline Limited (SNGPL), Petroleum and Gas Ministry and standing committees of the National Assembly. Out of 300 days, gas remained closed for 156 days causing loss of $5 billion cotton to production capacity of the country. Advocating the case effectively with the government, the association ensured five days a week gas supply to the industry, besides getting electricity load shedding exemption.
The association’s proposal of levying gas surcharge for gas exploration and laying of new pipelines was accepted. The APTMA leadership and members are also advocating for the Vision 2020 to resolve the gas crisis and sustainable growth of the energy sector, while clarifying how much energy is going to be produced from hydel, coal and other sources besides gas exploration. The association believes that only a futuristic vision can ensure affordable energy for the industry as well as domestic sector of the country.
APTMA group leader Gohar Ejaz said their strong advocacy for the free market mechanism during 2010-11 helped transfer Rs 400 million to Pakistani cotton farmers, equal to their income of eight years, and in the wake of price increase in the international market, remained the biggest contribution of APTMA for the welfare of the stakeholders. He said farmers got prosperity, which resulted in value addition to the crop and an increase of $5 billion export. While in 2011-12, resolving the energy crisis for the Punjab industry remained one of the biggest contributions of APTMA, he said.
Gohar said APTMA gave the philosophy in its 2011 budget recommendations to generate Rs 60 billion through surcharge on gas and spend the same money on development projects, like exploration of new gas fields, laying of pipeline or establishment of power plants.
He said that the association had also taken the case with US, which has allowed 80 countries for duty-free access to $120 billion market of America, however, despite claims of biggest ally on the war on terror, the US has not allowed Pakistan duty-fee access to its textile market.
APTMA is currently working for 10-15 percent energy conservation in mills, transferring monetary benefits to farmers community, investing on textile education and research, capacity-building of the members mills and actively working with the government to help resolve economic crisis faced to the country.
For sustainable growth and development, the association has launched energy conservation and environmental protection initiatives. In collaboration with GIZ, a German development corporation, APTMA conducted a study which reveals there is 10-15 percent energy conservation potential. To tap it energy saving systems have been installed in 35 mills initially for which GIZ is providing all technical support. The German company has also established a sustainable production centre at Upper Mall, Lahore that will be inaugurated in June.
Research and development is the key to survival and growth of any industry. Realising this aspect, APTMA has made it a law to collect Rs 20 per cotton bale from the mills to spend this amount on research through Pakistan Central Cotton Committee (PCCC), a semi-autonomous body, with the federal minister for textile industry as its president. Last year, APTMA contributed Rs 300 million, as collected against the production of 15 million cotton bales in the country.
APTMA is also fulfilling its corporate social responsibility towards promotion of textile education in Pakistan. The association established textile colleges in Faisalabad, Karachi and other cities, which were later handed over to the government.
Established since 1957, APTMA is the premier textile industry association having 350 member mills and offices in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and Peshawar. Although textile sector has a total 14 associations of various stakeholders, APTMA is the only body, which is taking up the case of whole sector to provincial, national and international level for the growth of the sector – from farmer to exporters.
Textile industry contributes 8.5 percent of the GDP, while APTMA is 50 percent of 8.5 percent textile contribution towards GDP. APTMA provides direct employment to one million workforce as well as three million indirect jobs.
Pakistan is the fourth largest cotton producer in the world as 98 percent of 15 million cotton bales produced in Pakistan are consumed by APTMA members.